Tag Archives: Paris

Things to worry about

About this time last week, my list of things to worry about looked like this

  • Being killed by terrorists.
  • ISIS expanding to take over all of Europe and then the USA.

and far down below those and everything related to them, quotidian things such as

  • Dying in a fiery car crash on the Beltway.
  • Being killed by a random gunman because I live in the USA, or having that happen to my husband at work or my children at school.
  • Having the house broken into (while B’s away).
  • Having the house broken into (while we’re all here).
  • B dropping dead while running, leaving me ignorant of passwords to online bill paying, so that as well as being bereft and lonely and bored with nobody to make up appropriate lyrics for any song at the drop of a hat, we would have our electricity cut off and freeze to death.
  • Getting stuck behind a fiery car crash on the Beltway so that I’m late to pick Dash up from school, and discovering that my phone refuses to hold any contact numbers any more so I couldn’t even call them to say why I’m not there.
  • Mabel refusing to open her mouth at her upcoming dental checkup.
  • Cancer.
  • Meningitis.
  • My turkey being dry on Thursday.

and so on, in descending order of terribleness or likeliness; you get the idea.

This week my sense of statistics has righted itself and those first two have dropped down to somewhere below the others. Climate change is in there somewhere too; I’m never quite sure where. And maybe the zombie apocalypse, sure, if I’m in the mood for fretting.

Of course, statistics are no comfort to all those families in Paris, in Mali, to a family not far from here who lost someone. To everyone who has died in car crashes or mass shootings or all the other terrible things that happen and continue to happen.

So, in conclusion, this isn’t a very comforting post, is it? But I really like how everyone’s tweeting cat pictures in Brussels. That seems like a very good way to deal with the tension. I’ll be over here trying to keep my worry weebles the right way up.

Paris, with several asides and explanatory notes

Terrible things happened in the world when I was a child. I know they did. Some I heard about and many I probably ignored, though the radio news during the day was always listened to and the nine o’clock news religiously watched. They didn’t affect me. I didn’t ever think ‘There but for the grace of God’. I didn’t wonder if such a thing might happen to me or the people I loved. Those things all happened far away and to other people, whether they were in Ethiopia or Turkey or Enniskillen.

But now, it’s so hard to ignore. Is it worse, or am I just older? I hope the latter.

(Clarification: Maybe I did worry. I worried about nuclear war. I worried about planes falling on my house. I worried about my cousin’s flight being hijacked when she went back to Australia. But I didn’t worry about famine or bombings or shootings.)

I have no particular ties to Paris. I spent an exciting day there with my French exchange and her family when I was 16 (they lived in Dijon, quite a distance from Paris; I think we went there on the way to the airport before I flew home), and a lovely weekend with B in my mid 20s. Horrified and appalled as I am at the attacks, it doesn’t feel right to me to paint my Facebook profile red, white and blue in honour of France, when so many atrocities in other parts of the world go unremarked. By me, by the American media.

(Note: I really don’t want you to think that I mean you shouldn’t have done it, if you did. I’m just explaining why I haven’t.)

I wonder what my grandparents felt, watching the world ramp up to the second world war. What their parents felt the generation before. The world is so different now, and yet apparently we haven’t evolved past the urge for violence. I don’t understand these people.

I don’t understand them because I wasn’t raised in poverty or oppression or desperation, like they were. Nobody put a machine gun in my hands when I was five and showed me how to use it. Nobody killed my family in front of my eyes. Nobody drove me from my home and raped me.

(Aside to my aside:
I know those are not the only people doing these horrible things. I know some of them come from perfectly comfortable backgrounds with loving parents in Western countries. I don’t know what to say about those people except that they’re young and impressionable and suffused with misplaced idealism.))

I wonder if I’m overreacting. I wonder if my grandparents wondered if they were overreacting.

(Note: One set of my grandparents were in London. These are the ones I’m thinking about specifically. They would have been about my age when WWII started, with children a little older than mine.)

Last night I took Mr Rogers’s advice and thought about the helpers, in a measure of self-preservation. This morning I see pictures of people queueing up to donate blood, stories of the French soccer team who stayed with their German opponents rather than going home, a pianist playing John Lennon. The French haven’t forgotten. They know how to be at war, and how to do it with dignity and courage.

Important Note: I don’t want anyone to be at war.

Jullien Eiffel Tower peace sign with flowers

Image credit Jean Jullien via The Body Shop, as far as I can find out. Please contact me if you added the flowers and I’ll be happy to credit you.